What is competency?

hans-india-image“The word `competency’ is a lot more technical in HR parlance than mere qualification.”

You see a job advertisement; you read the required qualifications and experience; you think you are suitable for the job and apply! You may be called for an interview and you present your technical or functional knowledge; you think you have done well and you expect to receive the offer letter; unfortunately, the result is not in your favor; more frustrating is not being told the reasons for your rejection. It makes you wonder what did the interview panelists expect to see in you that you do not have.

It is very natural to feel disappointed for not getting through the interview. However, it is important to realize that mere qualification and technical knowledge alone may not make us competent.

The word `competency’ is a lot more technical in HR parlance than mere qualification. It is therefore important to understand a bit of HR vocabulary so that we can understand what makes us competent.

What is a competency?

competency-1Competency is an underlying characteristic of a person that enables superior performance in a given job. It does include technical or functional knowledge; but it goes onto include skills, personality traits and motives that shape a person’s attitude. In a simplified way, we can understand competency as an integral combination of knowledge, skill and attitude that helps superior performance on the job. Let us take an example to understand this better.

Assume that Santosh reads a lot about automobiles. He knows how engine, brakes, clutch, accelerator, etc, operate; he can draw the internal circuits very well. Does it make him an excellent driver of the car? On the other hand,

Babu drives the car on highways and travels at high speeds. However, he does not know simple things about engine maintenance or clutch; soon you find that the wear and tear is very high. Do you consider Babu as a competent driver?


We now have a third case of Veera who knows the technicalities of the car; who drives the multi-taking-competent-mancar very well; however, he hates driving in the cities. Somehow, he feels he is not meant to be a driver and aspires to become a clerk. His dislike towards driving makes him restless and discourteous at times; do you consider Veera a competent driver?

Ideally, you are looking at a driver who comes with the knowledge of Santosh, skill of Babu and with an attitude that is the opposite of Veera. Therefore, in this case, what makes a driver competent is an integral view of knowledge, skill and attitude.

Keep tracking this space to know more about competency, competency frame work,  how organizations use competency frame work and what is in it for you?

This article was published in: 

HR Mirror, Hans India

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